The city fathers and one city mother of Clementon, a small New Jersey town, convened a meeting to discuss means to raise money without a new, or to raise taxes. One member suggested a management firm that specialized in advising small communities. Good way to start the Board agreed and a meeting date was set. Reconvened a month later, one of the management firm’s suggestions was to purchase, install and service parking meters. The Board became enamored with the idea.
After a presentation by a firm which would purchase and install the meters showed graphs of how much money could be raised over and above the initial expenses (especially when the rates for parking could easily be changed from a nickel to a dime to a quarter with very little effort and additional expense)—the project appeared the answer. Even factoring the cost of maintenance, collection, including the cost for meter maids, the project looked a “can’t miss” money-maker for the community.
The vote to approve would have been unanimous except for the female member of the Board. As the primary shopper in her family, she felt it would become an additional burden to remember to always carry change, forget and have to pay a fine, continually run out to “feed” the meter if longer than anticipated at a store. The men dismissed her arguments and proceeded to install the meters.
Within months of the installation, revenues from the meters, priced initially at five cents, dropped off significantly. So the city fathers hiked the price to a dime. Even so, revenues continued to fall and before they could raise the price once again, the city’s businessmen stormed the next Board meeting to complain about the loss of sales due to the meters. It even had driven some owners out of business already.
This scenario played out at the same time regional malls began to spring up all over the country. Loss of business to the malls became a real threat in all small towns but quickened the pace by the addition of parking meters.
The lone female Board member, Antoinette Beloit came up with a solution. The following day a strange sight befell the residents of Clementon.
The heads of all the meters had been chopped off.
This beheading became a movement throughout the country as other small communities tried to reverse the parking meter mistake and offset the free parking offered by the regional malls. It became known as Antoinette’s Revenge.
Note: This is a true story except for the novelist in me that felt a name change required, not to protect the innocent, but to enhance the story. The Rouse Company built the Cherry Hill Mall less than ten miles from Clementon, New Jersey in 1961. The first indoor mall built east of the Mississippi. There is probably a good moral here, if you think of one, drop me a line.
Times are a-changing—here in Laguna Beach many meters now accept credit cards.
Causes Charles Redner Supports
All Down syndrome associations, Buddy Walks in LA, Tucson and Orange Country CA